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Home » 3 Faiths Together

BEING CANADIAN

27 July 2017 No Comment

BEING CANADIAN
Imam Dr. Zijad Delic

“The most notable distinction between living and unanimated things is that the former maintain themselves by renewal. If it cannot do so, it does not just split into smaller pieces (at least in the higher forms of life), but loses its identity as a living thing.” – John Dewey, an American philosopher and educational reformer

This year, 2017, Canadians proudly celebrate 150s grand anniversary of our nation! In the last 22 years, since my landing on shores of Canada, I have witnessed Canada evolving, changing for the better. Each day in Canada gives me an opportunity to better appreciate Canada and Canadians and feel privileged to being part of Canadian tapestry. Yes, I was born in Bosnia but I am a Canadian; I am Bosnian in memory! It is possible for an individual to bear multiple identities at any given time. Identities, be they personal/individual, cultural or even religious/ideological shift over time due to personal, cultural or religious experiences and larger social changes. Identity is a dynamic evolving process of ‘becoming’ rather than simply ‘being.’ Canadian identity, thus, is not something that is static/constant, fixed and immutable; rather it evolves and changes with each generation. Canada is like a living organism! As such, if it did not renew itself and if it did not change in different times of its development, it could have lost its sense of identity. But it did not! Canada only became more diverse, stronger and more respected at home and globally.

The same could be said about Canadian Multiculturalism. The history of Canadian multiculturalism is an evolving acceptance of diversity. Preservation and advancement of acceptance of diversity in Canada is an official governmental policy. Canada’s originality and inner security allows freedom of cultures, religions and their enhancement as a national strength, not weakness. In the last four and a half decades, the focus of multiculturalism has evolved from celebrating differences in the 1970s to managing diversity in the 1980s, and to constructive engagement in the 1990s. In the beginning of the twenty first century, the focus of multicultural policy shifted in the direction of inclusive citizenship – rights and responsibilities of all Canadians and Canadian values, currently. In different timeframes, the key metaphor of Canadian multiculturalism changed, from “a mosaic” to “a level playing field” to “belonging” to “the two-way street/harmony” and to “conforming” (during the last years of Harper’s government). Today I would rather see “acceptance and respect” as the key metaphor of our Canadian multiculturalism as this great nation celebrates its successes of 150 years of existence. Canada is home to one of the most diverse, yet continues to welcome peoples from all over the world, focusing on integration of other cultures, not assimilation. We celebrate our differences while attempting to resolve them through positive discourse. If this is what Canada is then we should ask ourselves “What does it mean to be a Canadian?”

Being Canadian is not only about being born here, holding Canadian passport. It is about who we are – really. Being Canadian is about being responsible citizens – in action! Being Canadian means being indefinable! The fact that there is no prototype of a Canadian, a newcomer can come to Canada and be in love with this country as much, if not more, than those who arrived many generations ago. The familiar saying of the seventeenth-century philosopher Spinoza that “Citizens are made, not born” is especially applicable to Canada, as it is, nowadays. Being Canadian means being from the best country in the world and being welcomed wherever you GO! Being Canadian means being a part of a great and diverse functional family where each member is welcomed, accepted and respected! Being Canadian means striving to always better ourselves, our relations with others, our nation and the world. Being Canadian means treating well our First Nations brothers and sisters and accepting responsibility for mistreating them in the past/present. It means having acceptance of and respect towards those different than us and a sense of peace with ourselves. It means feeling compassion for others especially those less fortunate than us and sharing with them of the blessings we enjoy — at home or globally. It means being free to dream, free to speak, free to laugh, free to live, free to worship and free to follow our cultures without any hesitation and eat food with different flavours. It means loving hockey! For me, it was difficult transition since soccer was my life. First, I started loving hockey for the action of the game and then moved to loving hockey for the game! But I love soccer, too. It also means living through cold winters…and enjoying and loving them yet eagerly awaiting for springs. It means being loyal, patriotic and faithful to the nation and caring for its people and the security of the nation and people! Being Canadian means feeling good in your own skin – does not matter which color it is! It means being what you are: a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, non-believer or something else…and still being a good Canadian. It’s difficult to attach meaning to something that I-JUST-AM – Canadian!

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